With the failure today of the bailout bill that party leaders cobbled together, not only has the stock market further collapsed, but the utter political strangeness of the situation has reached a pinnacle. This whole mess has a can’t-look-away quality to it. Pelosi blames Bush for the mess, Republicans blame Pelosi for poisoning the caucus, presidential candidates blame each other for the bill’s failure, and as never before in my memory the talk has very clearly nothing to do with reality.
Let’s examine motivations:
- Bush is a lame duck and wants to secure his legacy by not screwing this up.
- Either Obama or McCain will be President-elect in a month or so, and making the wrong decision on an issue this large could be deadly.
- Party leaders want to take credit for their party.
- Rank-and-file congressmen are shortly up for election and desperately want to not piss off their constituency.
And then the results:
- Bush puts forth an enormous proposal with no accountability or oversight, but is astoundingly willing to add the oversight back in to the bill when challenged.
- Obama and McCain both support the bill, but say almost nothing about it except that it should be passed quickly.
- Party leaders on both sides support the bill, seem infurated with rank-and-file congressmen when they fail to pass it, blame each other.
- Rank-and-file congressmen (R moreso than D, Bush be damned) hate the bill, due to significant outrage from their constituency, and kill it.
When you look at the pretty clear (and strong) motivations, the resulting actions make sense. But played as a right vs. left battle, it’s mass hysteria and confusion.
So what’s the outcome of all this? The American people seem to have come together, without regard to party, to kill this bill through pressure on our elected representatives, despite the wishes of the powerful of both parties. As a result, we’ve given ourselves one of the largest stock crashes in history and we’ve caused a large number of powerful people to soil themselves. I don’t know if I should be afraid or proud.